To be clear, the replay rule that passed late last month that allows pass interference plays to be subject to review, whether it was called on the field or not, was not the rule that anybody wanted passed, speaking collectively. It was a compromise. The owners as a whole wanted less, if not no change. The coaches wanted more.
And more may be coming in 2020. It wouldn’t be a shock in the first place, as that tends to be how these things evolve. They are just dipping their toes into the penalties-can-be-reviewed waters. Truth be told, the CFL has already allowed pass interference to be reviewed and it hasn’t presented any major issues.
But there are still other significant developments certain key figures are hoping to see come to pass in the near future. A big one is allowing player safety-related penalties like unnecessary roughness, roughing the passer, and hits on defenseless players, to be subject to review.
Said the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jeff Lurie, “this is just the beginning. I’ve wanted to expand replay for quite a while, I’ve agreed with [New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick] on this over the years. Someday, I hope we can add players safety issues like roughing the passer and hits to defenseless players”.
“That’s next, and I hope we can work on that for the 2020 season”, he added. He lamented that “it took a real big mistake” in the NFC Championship game to finally get the ball rolling on this subject, but said, “sometimes you need a catalyst outside of your own efforts. And that’s kind of what happened”.
Albert Breer writing for Monday Morning Quarterback said that the coaches made a proposal that was far more broad than what passed, encompassing other penalties and adding a replay official with the regular crew.
While that proposal was ultimately neutered to just dealing with pass interference for now, he wrote, “the sense” was that the coaches’ proposal “was delayed, not defeated”. Remember, the new rule technically has only been passed for a one-year trial period. They are really just testing the waters before they dive in.
Frankly, I would be surprised if we don’t see all this get done over the course of the next two years, in large part because of the fact that the league has been very responsive to the reactions they have gotten over officiating issues in recent years, such as the catch rule.
Last season, particularly early on, there was a rash of roughing the passer calls as the league tweaked how they wanted the penalty to be called, and many of the penalties called seemed to be questionable at best. Some of them the league would later acknowledge were in error.
It would make a great deal of sense to add a mechanism that could fix those errors. It would make even more sense to include that mechanism within the officiating crew itself with the eighth ‘sky judge’ official. But I’ll have more on that tomorrow.